United States of America – Stuck in Customs

Long Roads in Utah

Jim Carrey Video

If you haven’t seen this one… it’s great!

Daily Photo – Long Roads in Utah

I had one of my best road trips in Utah a few years ago. I had never visited the state before, so I got an RV and made treks back and forth across the whole thing. I was really impressed with all the diversity and serenity there. I was constantly worried that my RV was gonna break down and I’d be stuck in the middle of the desert for days. I mean, I wasn’t THAT worried about it, but I often found myself doing scenario-planning, just in case.

Long Roads in Utah

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-08-22 01:33:04
  • CameraNEX-6
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length125.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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My Dad as a Baby!

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to wish a happy holidays to you! Thanks for coming so often to the blog… it means a lot to me! I’m glad you get some enjoyment out of it as well. πŸ™‚

Daily Photo – My Dad as a Baby!

I don’t post a lot of “family” photos, but when my dad died last year, we went through all the archives and found this one. It’s so weird to see your parents as babies, right? It must have been so weird to have grown up back in the olden days. I don’t know how those kids survived without Youtube and Tiktok. And how did their parents find their way around without GPS? It’s amazing humanity has made it this far.

My Dad as a Baby!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2020-01-19 17:21:13
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperture
  • ISO
  • Focal Length
  • Flash
  • Exposure Program
  • Exposure Bias

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Closing Time at The Vessel

Deceptive FedEx Passport Site

The FedEx website for Passport Renewal is incredibly deceptive. It APPEARS Fedex does everything for the prices in the photo below BUT:

1) All FedEx does is forward you to a third party where you fill out forms

2) I have to print out everything myself (I would expect my packet to be ready and waiting at FedEx)

3) That $349 does not include the actual cost of the renewal, which is about another $200. I saw that after filling out all the forms on a third party site and was wondering, correctly, “hmmm, well is that included in the $249 I already paid?

4) This third-party site has not gotten back to me in 2 days… either via email (immediately after filling out the forms) or phone. I’ve sent one email and left two phone messages.

5) All FedEx provides is an ENVELOPE. Oh, and Passport photos, which you have to pay extra for.

It’s this kind of stuff that makes me not trust big US businesses. Super shady, FedEx. Now that I have been able to unravel everything and figure out what is going on, it’s too late for me to renew my passport before I go back to New Zealand.

As a customer, when I go to FedEx to use their Passport Renewal service, I expect:

1) FedEx to prepare the entire package for me, including:

2) To pay once. They can sort out splitting that into a cashier’s check for the government.

3) To fill out everything online without signing into a third party website (they use GovWorks).

4) After I fill everything out, they print it out at branch where I will show up with my Passport for renewal.

5) I walk in, hand them my Passport (and if I need Passport photos, they were included in the price), and they pop it in an envelope and say thank you.

I mean, right?

Last, it’s totally unclear who I ask for a refund. FedEx apparently forwarded most of my money to this third party, and they kept the money for the envelopes. Oh man…

I called up and I ended up talking to a lady at “Passport Center.” I said, “Wait, is this FedEx?”

She said, “No, this is Passport Center.”

I said, “What is that? Is this the government?”

She said, “No, is there a problem with your passport sir?”

I was very confused and said, “Wait, you say this is ‘Passport Center’, but I started at the FedEx website, which forwarded me to a website called ‘GovWorks.com’, and then I got an email receipt from ‘RushMyPassport’ – what the heck is going on over there?”

She said, “It’s all very simple. We’re a sister company with FedEx.”

I said, somewhat exasperated, “Are you all sister companies? Oh never mind, I don’t actually care. Anyway, it’s taken you, or one of your sister companies, over 2 days to get back to me. I don’t think I can make my flight anymore, so I need a refund.”

She asked, “Where are you going?”

I said, dumbfounded, “Why does THAT matter? Let’s say the MOON via North Korea.”

Finally, I rushed through this pedantic conversation and she said she would send me another form to fill out for a refund. I was like, omg. I said, maybe you should tell one of your four sister companies to change its name to KindaRushMyPassport.com.

Also, look at how there is a timer up there on the top right to pressure you to buy, as if they are really limited on reservations like a hotel that is running out of rooms. Sketchy, Fedex, really sketchy.

Daily Photo – Closing Time at The Vessel

This was my last day in New York, so I was trying to be the absolute last person to leave The Vessel. It was such an amazing structure that I tried to squeeze every last photo out of that place, I tried a bunch of different lenses, but a place like this is really screaming for a super wide-angle lens. I almost wish I had my fish-eye with me… oh well… I’ll have to go back! πŸ™‚

Closing Time at The Vessel

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-22 20:56:32
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture4
  • ISO1250
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Pittsburg from the Funicular

Daily Photo – Pittsburg from the Funicular

I’ve always thought that the word “funicular” was a strange one. I looked it up to see the origin, hoping to find something really interesting, but it’s not. It comes from the Latin word for rope. Anyway, I guess none of that matters, because if you use the funicular in Pittsburg, you get this incredible view. There’s not a great viewing area up there because most of the hill is used up by private homes and restaurants. We sort of sneaked into an apartment lobby and went out to the balcony to get this particular view.

Pittsburg from the Funicular

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-08-04 19:00:53
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2.5
  • Aperture4
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length29.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

My Trip to Burning Man 2019, Part 1

I took over 5,100 photos this year, but that’s not really the point. Well, it’s part of the point, at least for me. I really enjoy being off by myself with my camera and enjoy random connections with art and people. This is year #10 in a row for me and I’m slowly figuring more and more and more about the event and about myself! I went again with my two roommates (Jonatas from Brazil and Rene from New Zealand), and this year I brought my virgin friend: Hugh Howey! We call people virgins who have never been to Burning Man before, and you’ll see a photo of him below. You may know him from his Wool series of books… we got to be close friends recently when we hiked the Camino de Santiago together. Anyway, if you can’t tell, he really enjoyed himself!

I spend about 8 hours a day sleeping, 8 hours a day taking photos, and 8 hours a day involved with molecular compounds to expand my mind and consciousness. Of that, my roomies and I do a 50% mix of “fun” molecules and 50% “spiritual, personal deep-dive” molecules. The latter creates perhaps the most interesting journeys, as we now have a lot of experience in understanding the nature of reality, love, and fearlessness. I could talk forever about this… don’t get me started! But I do have a whole chapter about it in my new book towards the end.

To another end, I’ve been working with a group of friends in Silicon Valley and beyond to help bring this kind of consciousness to the world. If you want to read more about the latest successful experiments and upcoming FDA approval (to treat depression, PTSD, and others) at Johns Hopkins Medicine, read this article entitled “First Major Center for Psychedelic Research Opening in the U.S.”. It features my friend Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress and fellow Camino to Santiago pilgrim), Tim Ferriss, and others. If you find this intriguing, there is a deeper dive you can do with Michael Pollan’s new book, “How to Change Your Mind,” which is on my recommended book list!

Anyway, enough with that, let’s look at some photos and hear some stories! πŸ™‚


Here is “Folly,” one of the most awesome art pieces at Burning Man this year, as the Monaco sailed up for a visit. It was one of the first giant works to burn. I would have taken photos of it burning, but my two crazy roommates and I decided to go dance at the Opulent Temple instead. It’s hard to explain… I don’t take photos ALL the time there, even though I got several thousand over the week.

This year I brought a virgin! His name is Hugh Howey (Pictured here with my friend, the fully clothed Joe Azure) – and you may know him as the sci-fi author of Wool and many other books. We hiked the Camino de Santiago recently and I slowly convinced him to join my friends at Burning Man. I’m super persuasive… ya know? Anyway, he didn’t bring a lot of clothes, but that seemed to work for him. He’s an awesome friend and it was a really good chance to bond and blow his mind via various molecular compounds. More to come about that… I know he got ideas for some new fictional works! I look forward to seeing what comes out of that brain (and shorts). Haha… yeah… he basically kind of owned Burning Man in his first year. Well done, Hugh, well done… *all 80,000 people there giving him a golf clap…

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Here’s my friend Eleanor Preger hanging out in the saloon at Folly out in the deep playa. It’s so strange meeting friends there because 98% of the meetings are completely by accident. I often intend to meet 20+ people out there, but since no one really uses mobile phones to communicate (thank goodness), finding your friends is almost impossible. So, you can imagine the surprise when 1 out of 80,000 people shouts out your name! I was over here taking photos and Eleanor screamed out my name! It’s always an exciting time to connect in this incredible serendipitous manner. She was here randomly serving free drinks (all drinks are free at Burning Man) to whoever came by. As soon as I arrived, she had just finished a fine bottle of Pinot Noir.

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Here’s a photo of Root Society, one of the 100+ camps where DJs play music all night and all day. This is one of the bigger ones that can hold over 1,000 people. Well, they are all outside, so they just kind of expand out into the night winds, so the numbers can go way up. It’s a great time to go out and dance because at night it really cools off and there is an incredible breeze. This year was not as cold as others. Sometimes it gets down to below freezing! I’d usually go out with Rene and Jonatas and other random people that get attached to our little silly crew. We jump around to about half a dozen camps per night… we’re big on the comedy along the way, always cracking one another up with some of the most ridiculous commentaries you’ve ever heard…

Here’s a fun little story from Burning Man if you don’t know much about the thousands of events that happen out there. This one is from the Bunny March (a fake protest of faux conflict) where about 5,000 people dress up like bunnies and hop across the desert to The Man. Waiting there, in secret, are a bunch of children – about 100 little Black Rock Scouts dress up like “Animal Control,” running around and trying to catch the bunnies with huge nets. The grown-ups give them a good run but always end up getting caught. After you’re caught, you are given a giant syringe full of tequila to cure you of your faux conflict for one more year. Kids get to pose with the bunny they caught and we exchange necklaces and hugs and then hop off into the desert.

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Here’s the giant 747 that made it out to Burning Man this year. It was converted into a huge dance club that would taxi across the playa every night to a different location. I took this just before sunrise. This year, I think I saw about 80% of the sunrises which was a new high for me! On this particular night, the plane had taxied way into the deep playa out near Michael Benisty’s work, “Broken Together”. I have a photo of these two together that I am still working on…

I always spend Temple Burn night by myself, out in the deep playa, several miles from the rest of the city where there are pieces of art randomly scattered. This piece is by Michael Benisty, who you may remember from last year (he did the two chrome figures hugging entitled “In Every Lifetime I Will Find You.” I knew he had a new work out here somewhere… I finally found it late in the week and this one is called “Broken Together.” Actually, I wasn’t totally by myself. There were two other people here… and it reminds me that I randomly meet some of the most interesting people in the world here. You can see this gentleman here, who was also out taking photos. He was with his wife. 16 Burning Mans for him (10 for me… a common question amongst burners). Anyway, he used to be a Southern Baptist Preacher. I talked with them for a while… I said, “I assume after a few burns you were no longer a man of the cloth?” He nodded his head and laughed… saying yes…yes…you know… and then we gave one another a hug and went off into the night.

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Manhattan from Redhook

Wanna see something weird?

Sure you do! Does anyone know what software they use to make this?

Daily Photo – Manhattan from Redhook

When I was out in Brooklyn a few months ago working on a commissioned piece, it gave me the chance to really get to know the area. I had always heard about this “Red Hook” part of Brooklyn but never really experienced it. Walking around is great, but getting up there with a drone is even better for getting a sense of the geometry of the place.

Manhattan from Redhook

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-22 12:57:01
  • CameraFC2204
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length4.4 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Comments

Up, Up and Away!

Dogs are Amazing

Check out this dog… it knows there is a baby in the belly. Thanks again, reddit, for blowing my mind!

She can sense tiny human in belly from aww

Daily Photo – Up, Up and Away!

In the middle of the summer, I visited my friend’s ranch in Yellowstone. I stayed there for a bit over a week and it was an amazing trip! The ranch holds about 15 people, and every few days, a helicopter would arrive to bring more guests in and take other guests out. The horses on the ranch now are so used to it, they completely ignore the chopper and just chomp away on the grass.

Up, Up and Away!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-07-09 23:59:18
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale

Daily Photo – Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale

Maybe I’ve been lucky, but every sunrise I’ve seen on the east coast of Florida has been absolutely beautiful. Even on days when it’s quite cloudy, the sun somehow manages to pop through and make the whole scene epic. Besides that, nothing beats a morning walk on the beach to clear your head and get you ready for the day! πŸ™‚

Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-13 06:34:02
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture8
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length29.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Pittsburg from Above

Daily Photo – Pittsburg from Above

When people ask me which city I was most surprised by during my trip to the US, I always say Pittsburg! I had no idea how beautiful it was. Anyway, it gave me another chance to experiment with a new technique, which you can see in today’s photo. Now, when I take cityscape shots, I purposefully cut off the top of the buildings so you can’t quite tell what city it is. From sharing travel photos from so many places around the world, I notice people really enjoy trying to guess where a place is. Showing the whole skyline, therefore, makes the photo a bit more predictable and boring!

Pittsburg from Above

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-08-04 19:01:50
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2.5
  • Aperture4
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length86.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Exploring The Vessel at Sunset

Scariest Halloween Pumpkin

I saw this frightening carving!

Most terrifying pumpkin ever from funny

Trey’s 360 Podcast – Kevin Kelly on the Wider Application of Burning Man Principles

NOTE: If this is your first time seeing a 360 Video, note you can grab the screen and look anywhere!

As we walk the Camino de Santiago Kevin Kelly (founding executive editor of Wired magazine, check him out on kk.org ) and I talk about how Burning Man might influence wider society.

And for the audio inclined…

Daily Photo – Exploring The Vessel at Sunset

I think the best time to visit this artistic beast is while the sun is setting. While there, a good challenge is to see how many different sorts of shots you can. The obvious one is to capture the whole thing with a wide-angle lens, but some of the more interesting shots are zoom-ins like this one. It’s kind of fun for me to wait for people to be in interesting positions to make the whole thing seem more alive.

Exploring The Vessel at Sunset

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-22 20:24:04
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length57.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

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